Class Demographics for Certain (Material) Planes

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Class Demographics for Certain (Material) Planes

I would like to know if there is any guidance about how many wizards of what levels exist in various campaign settings. I'm particularly interested in the Forgotten Realms and in Eberron, since these are the two settings that I think of as "high magic", and for that and other reasons are the closest comparisons to my own CW of Whiteleaf, which is deliberately designed to be a "high magic" world in a different sense than both of them. The vague feeling I have, from looking at material related to both settings, is that Eberron has a lot of low-level magic users (particularly the NPC "magewrights" rather than wizards per se), making it a world in which petty forms of magic are commonplace, but that there aren't very many high-level mages who move and shake the world. Meanwhile, FR seems to be the exact opposite, a medieval setting that's so primitive that most people still use outhouses and chamber pots, but where every third village has one eccentric old resident who's secretly a 20th-level evoker or a polymorphed dragon, who in either case is perfectly capable of casting a 9th-level spell whenever they feel like doing so, and thus could effortlessly solve all manner of geopolitical issues if they ever wanted to bother.

If these impressions are accurate, I'd like to see some numbers codifying them, so that I could then modify those numbers for use in my Whiteleaf worldbuilding. My objective is to have that world contain more low-level casters than Faerun but fewer than Eberron, and the reverse for the high end. I don't want a full-blown Tippyverse, and I want to steer clear of both the relative mundanity of magecraft on Eberron as well as the "Elminster syndrome" of FR, but I do want to be significantly more in both of those directions than a grittier-feeling setting such as Greyhawk or Birthright (or for that matter Planescape). Whiteleaf needs to have enough casters that ordinary life can be improved in various significant ways, helping the population to be relatively comfortable and more easily uplifted than downtrodden, while still having to work for what they value in life instead of just having things handled for them by greater forces. There should be very few NPCs with godlike power that they can effortlessly use in six seconds to wipe out an entire army, but there should also be enough of them that the entire planet is not routinely threatened with annihilation. I'm going for a sort of "cold war between Good and Evil" vibe, where problems are usually solved with spycraft rather than brute force, and looking to construct mechanics that will support this; a population demographics chart by PC and NPC class would be one such useful feature, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to create it without some reference material from past eras.

Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 2010-06-26 14:37
One Take

This probably doesn’t answer your question; but here’s my take: I sort of break it up into four general groups of arcane spell-casters

*”Hedge wizards” – spell casters of levels 1-3 (nothing about 2nd level spells, at most)
Like Ebberon (albeit less industrialized), these casters are fairly common and most people are comfortable with this level of magic. Similarly, these spells have far-reaching effects on society. For example, even a number of poorer families might save up enough money to hire a hedge wizard to cast Continual Light on a stone in order to provide a permanent source of light for one room of their homes.
I looked over the cantrips, 1st and 2nd level spells and I could see a lot of practical uses which the general populace would consider useful and which I imagine would become part of everyday life
- Animal Friendship, Speak with Animals – calm/control panicked animals
- Calm Emotions – crowd control (without being as intrusive as a Charm Person spell)
- Comprehend Languages – employment as a translator
- Cure Wounds, Healing Word, Lesser Restoration – useful alternative to clerics
- Dancing Lights, Faerie Fire – entertainment
- Feather Fall
- Identify
- Light
- Locate Animals or Plants, Locate Object
- Longstrider – increase speed for messengers
- Magic Mouth, Message – communication
- Mending – lots of uses as a “Fix-It” shop
- See Invisibility
- Silence
- Zone of Truth – used in courts or during business transactions

Despite this relative comfort, certain other spells would be looked at as morally dubious by non-mages. These would include spells that
- influence/control one’s mind (Charm Person, Crown of Madness, Detect Thoughts),
- circumvent non-magical defenses (Invisibility, Knock)
- spells that just look scary (Cloud of Daggers)
If the hedge wizard was known for using these sorts of spells, he or she would be suspicious in the eyes of most people. I know that almost any spell can be used for good or for ill, but I think these would be the overall impression of these spells by the general population

*Commercial Houses/Magewrights
Largely stolen from Eberron, I have several powerful commercial houses that manufacture magical items. I included these mainly to explain the amount of magical items in the world (but because of the shoddy nature of mass production; this also results in a relatively large number of cursed items in the world).
This might seem like it would make magic too ubiquitous; but I rule that for most people, this doesn’t equate to much more than hedge wizards. It would not be astounding for a family to have a couple of +1 arrows or a Continual Light stone to light one room; but this would mean that almost nobody would have an Unseen Servant sweeping up their homes.
The commercial houses create most of their magic for the politically and/or commercially powerful individuals in the world. To the common people, these commercial houses are well-known but have little impact on their lives.
So while the merchant fleets might have several ships enchanted to increase speed and durability; there is no lightning rail system or magical blimps to provide transportation for the general populace

Mages capable of casting spells of levels 4 to 6. It is at this level that the common people start to distrust mages (aggravated in my world by madness and detrimental effects caused by people casting spells in excess of their ability). Would you trust someone who could effectively summon a lit stick of dynamite (my interpretation of a Fireball spell)?
These mages are usually apprenticed to more powerful mages who are expected to keep their over-ambitious pupils in check
Ironically, this tier has a fair amount of interaction with society. At this level, to increase their reputations and to appease general fears, these mid-tier wizards often join mage guilds, assist the city guard, engage in civil projects, take appeals from common folk to kill a roaming monster, etc.
This is the stage where an up-and-coming wizard builds his fame or infamy

The uber-powerful mages capable of casting spells of levels 7 to 9. Very rare and most are too absorbed in their own enterprises to care what is going on among the common folk. Sure, they might step in if there is some obvious danger; but almost none of them are intrusive as Elminster (%^&* I hate that character)
At this level, the wizards sort of pull away from society. They wield enough arcane power that they no longer get any benefit (magical or political) from being in a mages’ guild. They will still meet with political leaders like the king but as the wizard grows in power, even this might be considered a nuisance.
So if the dam breaks, this level of wizard might show up to divert the flood away from the village (and his tower) but he or she might not be interested in rebuilding the dam or investigating who/what caused the dam to fail. At best, the wizard might send some hireswords (PCs) to look into it
Wizards at this level are always famous but become increasingly inscrutable and distant

Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 2010-06-26 14:37
Actual Numbers

I picked up these from somewhere

Gen. Pop.-----------Includes PC Level
10------------------1 1st
20------------------1 2nd
40------------------1 3rd
80------------------1 4th
160-----------------1 5th
320-----------------1 6th
640-----------------1 7th
1280----------------1 8th
2,560---------------1 9th
5,120---------------1 10th
10,240--------------1 11th
20,480--------------1 12th
40,960--------------1 13th
81,920--------------1 14th
163,840-------------1 15th
326,680-------------1 16th
655,360-------------1 17th
1,310,720-----------1 18th

PC Level---------Approx. # in 1,000,000

Rolro's picture
Last seen: 4 days 16 hours ago
Joined: 2012-09-12 11:56
My rule generally when

My rule generally when comparing PS and FR or Mystara npcs, calculate their levels ×20/36 (pre-4e-5e)

GH and Eberron are mostly fine, except those dragons in Eberron